Crate Training

Crate-training is necessary if you a) intend to transport your dog via vehicle or aircraft; b) ever need to leave your dog at home, unsupervised -among other reasons.

From Day 1 I knew the first thing I needed to teach my new partner, Chance, was the dog-dreaded Crate. I did not waste any time. After leaving BetterDog that day, we headed to Cartimar to buy one.

Excited…The very next day, I parked my car at the office and walked a few blocks to Mom’s house to pick up my new student. We walked back to the office together and went straight to work.

After assembling the crate and several attempts to get Chance to go inside it, I realized I had to disassemble the crate again and teach her to go into an open crate first. I taught her “Inside” then “Sit”. Eventually I also tried “Inside” then “Down”.

Impatient me eventually re-assembled the crate and threw cubes of Cheese all the way in as a Lure. I used a technique called Shaping; Every time she went near the crate or stuck her head (and, eventually, her body) in it, I clicked (using a Clicker) then rewarded her with another treat.

On Training Day 3, I got Jorge to help out. Jorge is already crate-trained (believe it or not!) so I asked him to go “inside” then rewarded him with a treat every time he did. This made Chance curious and want to go inside the crate even while Jorge was in it -which was the whole point of the exercise.

Eventually I decided I wanted to be able to train Chance every day so I took her home with me. Sometime last week, I got another crate (exactly like the first one, now permanently at the back of my car) for my condo. Since I’ve been busy introducing new commands, I haven’t really been able to train her with the crate at home. However, I have stepped out of the house several times without her, leaving her inside the crate for whole afternoons.

It’s been three and a half weeks and yet I still have to either throw treats all the way to the back of the crate or gently shove her in to get her inside.

Not tonight!

Tonight, she went inside the crate after only one command. For a while I thought it was a fluke. I ran to get my Clicker and Liver -no less- as a treat. Then, I tried it again. And again. And again…clicking and giving her a reward every single time she went inside that crate!

After 25 days (May 2-May 26) of not-everyday crate-training, Chance is finally, undeniably, crate-trained!

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3 Responses to Crate Training

  1. fostrickson says:

    Mine loved their crates from the beginning, don’t know why! Now they are a bit older, we don’t have to use them at all.

    • Lucky you!
      The kind of training I do for my dogs (except PeeWee who is now 11 and completely blind), including the crate, is a little more scientific. It is not merely to go into the crate but to have them go in and out of the crate, and stay in the crate even when the crate door has been opened, on command, without fail.
      I will always need the crate because I refuse to have my dogs ride in the car beside or behind me -even if this one, Chance, behaves 100% (it’s a fur-shedding issue). In addition, the reason I acquired Chance is to train her to eventually compete with me in Agility competitions nationwide. So, in my case, I will always need the crate to transport her, especially via aircraft.

      • fostrickson says:

        Yes, I can see how that would be necessary. Luckily, ours are too big to fit in the front seat of the vehicle, and one is too bit to be allowed on a plane!

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